"Wasteland To Garden Of Eden - With
Volcanic Rock Dust"
Couple Called 'Cranks' Wins Funding For Fertiliser Trial
A Scottish couple who believe volcanic rock dust can
revitalise barren soil and reverse climate change have won
research funding from the Scottish Executive.
Over a 20-year period, Cameron and Moira Thomson, both
former teachers, have converted six acres of exposed,
infertile land in the foothills of the Grampian mountains near
Pitlochry into a modern Garden of Eden, using little more than
the unwanted by-product from a nearby quarry. The application
of rock dust mixed with municipal compost has created rich,
deep soils capable of producing cabbages the size of
footballs, onions bigger than coconuts and gooseberries as
large as plums.
Before the pair began their experiment, erosion and leaching
were so severe that nothing had been grown in the glen for
almost 50 years.
The basis of the Thomsons' theory is simple -- adding the
dust mimics glacial cycles which naturally fertilise the land.
Since the last ice age three million years ago the earth has
gone through 25 similar glaciations, each lasting about 90,000
years. We are currently 10,000 years into an interglacial -- a
hiatus between ice ages -- meaning modern soils are relatively
barren and artificial fertilisers are needed.
"We've been dismissed as cranks and loonies, and now it
looks as though people are starting to listen," said Mrs
Thomson, 42. "Farmers and scientists have seen what we have
achieved and are willing to look into how it can be used for
everything from growing crops to turf for golf-courses." The
couple established the Seer Centre charitable trust in 1997 to
test their ideas and have been granted more than £95,000 by
the Scottish Executive to conduct Britain's first rock dust
The Thomsons' technique may also play a significant role in
the fight against climate change, as the calcium and magnesium
in the dust they use converts atmospheric carbon into
carbonates. "We are walking into another ice age unless we do
something now," said Mr Thomson, 56. "If we burn fossil fuels
at today's rates, atmospheric carbon could be kept stable if
we covered the earth soils with between 0.8 and 3.2 tons of
rock dust per acre."
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